Military-developed countermeasures to be trialled on Boeing 737 and Gulfstream IV

Saab Avitronics is entering the missile-defence sector for civil aircraft with a system that uses covert decoys, rather than lasers or pyrotechnic flares, and intends to begin flight tests next year.

The Swedish-South African aerospace company plans to mount the system on a Boeing 737 operated by a major US carrier, as well as a Gulfstream IV head-of-state aircraft in Europe, to gather data.

Known as the Civil Aircraft Missile Protection System (CAMPS), the equipment combines a missile-approach warning sensor – the MAW-300, which detects ultraviolet emissions from a hostile missile launch – with an electromechanical dispenser known as BOA, which ejects a package of pyrophoric decoy material.

As this package is jettisoned, the high-speed airstream causes it to burst open and scatter the material, which oxidises at low temperature – burning undetectably in the visible spectrum but brightly in the infrared, confusing the guidance system of an incoming missile.

Speaking to Flight International at the Safety of Flight conference earlier this month in London, Saab Avitronics senior marketing executive Sten Soderstrom said that the material, developed by partner Chemring Group, is non-explosive and non-pyrotechnic and poses no hazard on the ground.

A weight-on-wheels switch prevents the mechanism activating accidentally, and the sealed packages are designed to open only in a slipstream above 100kt (185km/h).

For a twin-engined aircraft, the installation would typically involve placing a dispenser close to each powerplant. Each dispenser holds 40 decoy packages, but only a few would normally be ejected during each activation – enabling the system to deal with multiple threats.

The non-visible oxidation of the decoy material, which reduces to a fine powder, would also serve to avoid the possible problems of ground fires, as well as public attention, which have been associated with deployment of flares.

Soderstrom says the CAMPS equipment is almost completely enclosed within the airframe, with only the four ultraviolet sensor heads exposed.

Based on a system developed for military applications, CAMPS also incorporates a neural-net classifier, aiding the system’s ability to distinguish between a missile launch and non-threat.

Soderstrom says: “This gives it the ability to learn, to recognise patterns of clutter against an actual missile firing.”

Saab Avitronics is finalising integration of the MAW-300 warning system with the BOA dispensing device, he adds. Installation feasibility studies have already been performed for aircraft types including the Boeing 737 and 767, and the company believes it can begin delivering the equipment in mid-2006.


Source: Flight International